Bankrate's survey of six questions gauges how secure Americans feel about their personal finances compared to 12 months ago. On May 3-6, 2012, telephone interviews with 999 adults living in the continental U.S. were conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. The results of Bankrate's Financial Security Index, below, have a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.6 percentage points.
- Among respondents 25 and older, 70% with no college degree cut back on expenses versus 47% of college grads.
- 65% of Republicans and 62% of independents cut back on expenses, compared to 53% of Democrats.
- 69% of those earning less than $75,000 made some cutbacks, compared to 44% of $75,000-plus earners.
- 34% of Southerners report feeling more job security now versus a year ago. The same is true for 24% in other regions.
- 22% of those 30-64 say they feel more secure versus 41% younger than 30 and 42% age 65 and older.
- 37% of those earning less than $30,000 a year feel more secure compared to 25% of those earning more.
- 20% of college grads say they feel better about their savings than a year ago, compared to 11% of those with a high school education or less.
- 39% of Republicans say they feel worse about their savings, compared to 29% of Democrats.
- 43% of fathers with kids younger than 18 feel less comfortable with savings, versus 30% of other men.
- 25% of respondents younger than 65 feel worse about their debt today versus a year ago. The same is true for 16% of those 65-plus.
- Among parents of kids younger than 18, 29% feel less comfortable about debt. Just 20% of nonparents said the same.
- 28% of those who cut back on expenses due to gas prices are less comfortable with debt, compared to 14% who did not cut back.
- More parents (34%) than nonparents (23%) report having a higher net worth compared to last year.
- Net worth rose for 34% of college grads, 29% of those with some college and 20% of people with a high school education or less.
- 43% of those earning $75,000-plus per year and 22% earning less report a net worth increase.
- 32% of men and 24% of women say their overall financial situation is better now than a year ago.
- 27% of Republicans and 18% of Democrats say they're worse off than a year ago.
- Finances improved over the past year for 35% of those younger than 50, versus 21% for age 50-plus respondents.
Bankrate's Financial Security Index gauges how Americans feel today versus a year ago on vital financial matters. An index value of less than 100 indicates declining levels of financial security; a value greater than 100 reveals higher levels of security compared to 12 months ago.